Do you remember the old baseball scout that Brad Pitt fires in MONEYBALL? You know the one that resented the type of scouting that was being forced upon them that year in the Oakland Athletics organization. The scouting relied almost entirely on computer analytics that would give you ideal statistics that would essentially help someone put a team together at a considerable discount. By doing so it took an element out of the game that the old fashioned scouting system sees that computers can’t- the human element. I know how hokey and dumb that might sound, but TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE is a film that the fired scout in MONEYBALL would have fit seamlessly into and he wouldn’t even be the oldest or crankiest scout in the film.
Clint Eastwood stars as the aging and incredibly bitter baseball scout, Gus. He is tasked timidly with scouting an up and coming player in North Carolina as the Atlanta Braves first round draft pick, but is not forthcoming about the possibility that in his old age his eyes may be running into a serious issue. Gus’ daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), who longs desperately to connect with her father tags along after his health issues are brought to her attention. The two have a rocky past that Gus refuses to acknowledge around her while Mickey becomes increasingly disappointed by her father’s inability to talk to her about anything but baseball. Along the way a former baseball phenom turned starry eyed scout, Johnny (Justin Timberlake), has his eyes set on becoming a baseball broadcaster and sweeping Mickey off her feet.
There’s no doubt that TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE displays a love for my all time favorite sport or that at the center of the film there’s a great hear. In fact, I would say there’s no doubt that this is a wonderful movie overall, I just didn’t fall head over heels for it. The filmmakers here do little to disguise what they intend on doing with the narrative which in the end the emotional impact while cute, falls just short of a homerun.
I was surprised by how funny I found the film to be and the entire cast has a hand in on the jokes. Amy Adams is always adorable and if that was her only charm that’d be one thing, but she’s a great dramatic actress and she has a few moments here to show off. At this stage in Eastwood’s career his face does a majority of the acting while his typical cranky old man dialogue speaks for itself and is consistently funny here. The missteps in terms of the script are the cheesier moments of Timberlake’s initial introduction and moments involving some of the kids on the baseball team the scouts are following. There are some chuckle worthy lines with the kids, but overall whenever they became the focus of the scene the film felt unnecessarily goofy.
The baseball stuff on display on TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE is suited for those who found MONEYBALL way too boring or too involved. The best way to describe the film as well as its baseball treatment is old fashioned- none too concerned with all the bells and whistles that come along with advancing technology. The comedy and the storytelling is extremely straightforward and simple which brings us back to the issue of the film ultimately being predictable- not that it had aspirations of tricking any one person in the audience to begin with.
As a lover of America’s favorite past-time I am drawn to the films that bring the sport to the big screen and immerse me as an audience member to the life and times on the diamond. TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE is a genuine and personal approach to the love of the game and its ability to bring people together while also injecting a healthy dose of baseball and non baseball related humor into the mix. You may not be able to feel the fresh air or smell the fresh cut grass of the field, but TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE is a crowd pleasing film with great performances and an obvious appreciation for the game of baseball. In the end I wasn’t shirtless screaming belligerently from the stands, but enjoyed myself enough to at least root enthusiastically for a cranky Eastwood victory delivered by Robert Lorenz.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)